Category Archives: Stay-At-Home-Moms

Mommy Journaling Reinforces The Joys of Staying Home

I’m traveling this week, doing my radio program from Detroit and then from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, so I thought I’d feature a guest blogger today, who wrote in with the following comments:

Hi, Dr. Laura!
I am a stay-at-home mom of two beautiful children, ages 4 1/2 and almost 2.  I have been a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) since the middle of my first pregnancy.  I just picked up your book “In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms,” and read it cover-to-cover in two days.  At first, the book made me angry.  Not at anything you said, but it stirred up some old emotions in me that I thought I had buried long ago.

You see, I have felt a lot of negativity from my in-laws since the day my husband and I decided that I would quit my job to stay home to raise our family.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law, and even both brothers-in-law and their wives, who all have children in day care, felt that I was not pulling my weight-that I was a burden on my husband, and that my children should be in day care.  Can you imagine?!!

My husband and I lead a completely different lifestyle from them, but that didn’t seem to matter to them. We don’t have a thirty foot trailer for camping, and it’s not important for us to have brand new SUVs or granite countertops.  We can have those material things in due time, if we choose.

Reading your book made me think about the past again, the way my children and I have been treated over the years, and it brought back all the anger and resentment.  As I continued reading your book, it clicked!  My in-laws are jealous of the quality time that I get to spend with my children every day.  Also, the biggie for me:  happiness is a matter of perspective.  Both my husband and I feel like we are doing the right thing by having me stay-at-home and that’s all that matters.  Period.

In a quest to keep the right perspective, I have started journaling my proud “mommy moments,” and I thought I would share this with you.  Perhaps this might help other SAHMs keep a positive outlook, too.  There’s no denying that being a full-time stay-at-home mom is both rewarding and challenging.  So, I started journaling all the wonderful moments that I experience with my children on a daily basis – the moments I would never be able to experience via Mommy-cam. 

Today, my daughter lovingly brushed the hair away from my forehead and kissed me sweetly on my forehead, just as I have done to her countless times.  I wrote it down.  When my little boy wraps his pudgy arms around my legs and squeezes me with all his might, I write it down.  That way, when things get tough, which they will, I can quickly glance over my Mommy journal and see why I’m doing this again, to help me keep a positive outlook.  I know this won’t make whatever is troubling me magically disappear, but I do think that seeing what’s positive and wonderful in my life will help to clear my head and give me strength for Round 2 and 3.

You have been such a wonderful influence on me, Dr. Laura.  Thank you for helping to lift my chin, so when people ask me what I do for a living, I can respond, smiling, “I am a proud FULL-time stay-at-home Mommy and I love my life.”

God bless you and yours,

C.

Burnout Prevention

A caller with a seemingly simple question has been haunting my mind since Monday.  The caller was a stay-at-home mom with four children under the age of six.  I thought I was heroic chasing after one child who never napped.  I can’t imagine four little tykes going in different directions, all with different personalities and needs.  Wow.

After asking some sneaky questions, I discerned that she was – in two words – BURNED OUT.  It’s difficult to get around the understandable embarrassment or shame that a mother has for even thinking that she wished she were on another planet away from the children for a while.  But this is a totally understandable and normal reaction to a lovely, but draining, situation.

When a woman is at a job, she can take a number of bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, and a lunch break which may even include shopping (a great tension releaser!).  When taking care of a number of children whose needs are relentless and inconsistent, it’s easy to see how one brain and heart can be overwhelmed if the kids don’t nap – mine never did, and I remember feeling mentally exhausted.

Mothers do, but shouldn’t, feel guilt at not always being thrilled out of their ears to be taking care of their children.  My first argument is that there is no one with any career or activity who doesn’t regularly feel the same way.  Human beings need breaks – changes of scenery and input – and activities that help let off steam and revive one’s sense of joy in life.  That’s why in my book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, I’ve written about the necessity of taking guilt-free breaks – and taking them before you break!

First, to the husbands:  Make sure you command and demand that your beloved wife and mother of your progeny go out with her girlfriends, go have a one-hour bath with bubbles and wine, or go ride her bike with a bike club for a morning – something so that she can feel revived and relaxed.  Plan it for her if she’s stubborn (the stubbornness usually comes from feeling guilty).  Tell her that a GOOD mother takes care of herself so that the “giving” flows more readily.

Second, to you mothers:  Grandma is useful for a break while you do nothing or something that relaxes you.  I told this caller to get one of those carriers that attaches to a bicycle, and get a child bike seat affixed behind her bike seat – that takes care of three kids right there, and one is in kindergarten.  Take ‘em all on a bike ride to picnic or relax in a park – that’s only one of the things I did with my child.  Turn on an exercise video and dance along with the music to get a workout – the kids will join in, or play next to you with their toys. 

My message is:  no guilt.  Any profession has tools that must be taken care of to keep working properly:  a computer, a saw and hammer…whatever.  For us mothers, the tool is ourselves.  So, no guilt.  Take it as a responsibility to keep yourself loose and refreshed.

My final message is that being home with your children opens up many opportunities if you think out of the perimeter of your property.  It isn’t supposed to be a “work farm.”  It’s supposed to be a joyous home.  Oh, and here’s why that caller stuck in my mind:  I heard a depth of sadness in her voice that seriously worried me, and I realized that many of you moms try so hard that you forget to take care of yourselves.  In doing so, you lose contact with your mission in the first place.  When that happens, your children miss you.

So, ladies, turn on that music and dance and sing around the house and enjoy!

Deflecting Arguments Against Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

Stay-at-home moms are often misunderstood, sneered at, and given very little respect.  It’s no wonder women say they stay at home with some apprehension – they never know what they’re going to hear back!  Well, today, I have some advice for how to handle the naysayers: 

Video: Deflecting Arguments Against Being A Stay-at-Home Mom

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.

Read transcript here.

I Tidied Up My Point of View

When my now 6’3″ son was a little guy, housework was secondary in priority to interacting with him.  One of my most wonderful memories is of taking him on a walk (and pulling him in his Radio Flyer-like wagon) to the huge parking lot of the local Target.  I would put him in one of the shopping carts, and run like mad, twisting and turning and twirling the cart until he whooped with delight.  This would go on for the better part of an hour.  Thinking back, I got a good aerobic exercise workout, and he got a Disneyland-like ride.  At the time, though, it was just about having fun together.

One of the constant complaints I get (especially from at-home moms), is about the drudgery of housework, particularly about how it is never-ending and repetitive.  Frankly, I liked knowing the parameters involved with housework:  bathrooms, kitchen, and washing and folding laundry.  Folding laundry was my meditative exercise.  I found it quite relaxing.

Attitude is the essential issue in dealing with anything in life.  I had a recent caller to my radio program who was still working through her rotten childhood by yelling and being physical with her kids…but in a bad way.  After a bit of a lecture from me on finally having fun in her life, and my giving her examples of getting kids to do things (like putting toys away or getting their pajamas on) with fun (complete with giggles and applause), she wrote me back and thanked me.  Then I received this email from another listener:

I am in the middle of three loads of laundry (I have four boys ages 7,10, 12 and 14, so I have a lot of laundry), and wanted to thank you for being my “housework buddy.”  You may not realize it, but you’ve been helping me with my housework for the last 3 months.  How?  I’ve always hated and avoided doing housework, because I never saw the value in it.  Instead, I took part-time jobs while the kids were in school and hired a housekeeper once a week.  While she put a dent in the mess, there was still a lot of housework left, and I asked my full-time working husband to help out on the weekend.  This meant that our weekends weren’t much fun.

After listening to you talk to a caller about what a great gift she was giving her family by keeping the house neat, I decided to devote the three hours you’re on the air to housework.  I can now happily listen to you from any room in the house.  While I still don’t enjoy housework, my family and I do enjoy having a clean, well-organized home.  And we have a lot more fun on the weekend.  So, thank you for being my “housework buddy” and keeping me company while I work!

Debra
San Diego

Everything we do is of value, even if it is the same thing every day (which, of course, it doesn’t have to be).  Creativity in how we approach situations changes everything about how we feel and how much we appreciate life, love, and family.  So, whatever it is you have to do, find a way to make it fun.

Nanny, Babysitter, Day Care Worker or….MOMMY?

I got the inspiration for writing my latest book In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, after I asked the audience at a television talk show a seemingly simple question. Find out what I asked, and how, 25 years later (!), that answer turned into my newest book:

Video: Nanny… Babysitter… Day Care Worker… or Mommy?

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.

Read transcript here.

Stay-at-Home Moms Need Praise

My newest book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, is being released in two weeks. One of the questions I’m asked most often is why it’s so important for kids to have a mom at home, especially when the conventional wisdom suggests that “quality time” is as good as “quantity time.” Not so.

Stay-at-Home Moms Need Praise!

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.

Read transcript here.

Babies Need Love, Not Day Care

This letter is from a listener who wishes to remain anonymous:

Dr. Laura:
I totally agree with you about how bad day care is, and how damaging it is for children.  Recently, I saw a mother who had just picked up her 18-month-old daughter from day care at 6 o’clock!  That’s basically what time my kids go to bed!   The baby was crying, grabbing at the mother’s skirt, and refusing to let go.  The mother was getting annoyed, and kept saying, “Why are you acting like this?  What’s wrong?”

I felt so upset.  What a dumb question!  You neglected your baby for the entire day, she missed you, and is exhausted and stressed, and you’re surprised that she’s acting that way?

I would think that a mother who has her child in day care the entire day would be the one crying and showering love and attention on her baby instead of getting mad at her.  The baby should be mad at the parent, not the other way around.

And then, because parents don’t see their baby all day, they put them to bed too late, which makes them more stressed and makes it even harder for them to cope with their emotions in day care.  When we, as parents, are tired, it’s hard not to be fussy.  Well, imagine what it’s like for a baby!  It’s MUCH harder for them to handle being tired.  Parents need to do what’s best for their children, not what’s best for themselves, and if they don’t want to, or if they think their children shouldn’t stand in the way of their doing what they want, then don’t have them!

Why bring children into the world to give them to others to raise? Why bring children into the world if you are giving them the message that your job and your life are more important than them?  For those that say “Well, I’m just not the type to be home with my kids,” or “I can’t handle being with kids,” then don’t have them!

I know of far too many babies that get attached to their nannies, and spend more time with them than with their own parents.  These babies wonder why their “parent” (that is, the nanny) is leaving them for the night.  Not only do they not have their real parents during most of the day, but then they don’t have their “nanny parent” either.

Sometimes, people say “I want my kids to have the best – the best car, the best house, the best toys.”  Believe me, things are not what makes a baby happy.  Love and attention and kindness are what makes them happy.

How sad. 

And then people wonder why children are so troubled, and why they “act out,”and why they would do anything for attention.  If a mother MUST work to feed her family, I understand, but the attitude shouldn’t be that day care is the first choice.  The attitude needs to be “how sad that she cannot care for her baby.”

I think it’s nuts that people think it’s sad that my baby is home with me.  She is definitely happier than all the crying babies in the playground, but all the working mothers will  never know that their babies are crying, falling, or are just plain exhausted.